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Toko Online Gratis

tentang cinta pertama

 

Aku mengenalnya semenjak aku berusia 5 tahun, tapi mulainya rasa itu ada ketika aku duduk di kelas 4 SD, semenjak itu aku merasa aneh, karena usiaku juga masih terbilang kanak2. Entah apa yang aku rasa saat itu, aku tak mengerti apa yang sedang terjadi kala itu, aku seperti orang yang tak tentu arah.

Saat aku sadari ternyata aku mulai suka, ya aku suka untuk yang pertama kali pada seseorang. Namun aku tak mampu melakukan apa yang ingin aku lakukan. Aku hanya mengaguminya dari kejauhan, aku hanya mampu melihat senyumnya dari sini dari tempatku duduk kala itu. Aku melihatnya tertawa dan melihat bermain bola di lapangan itu, apa lagi saat kita bermain dan kejar2an. Aku sungguh suka... Laki laki yang aku pandang terlihat tampan dengan gayanya yg khas dan aku suka itu. Matanya sangat indah, rambutnya yang agak kriting menambah getaran dalam dada ini. Huuuuh aku suka dia, benar-benar suka dia.

Rasa ini semakin hari semakin dalam. Setiap hari yang aku ingin hanya memandang wajahnya. Suatu hari aku melihat tatapan matanya, tatapan mata yang sangat sejuk. Yang mampu membuat jantung ini berdegup lebih cepat. Dan akhirnya aku mulai bisa dekat dgn dia, karena saat itu aku dukuk 1 bangku dengannya,1 minggu itu. sangat menyenangkan, aku merasa sangat bahagia.

Hingga suatu hari, apa yang aku takutkan terjadi, dia pergi. Pergi tanpa pesan terakhir. Kini, hanya ada aku dan kenangan itu. Aku hanya mampu mengingatnya, mengingat semua senyumnya dan tatapan indah itu. Aku berjalan gontai sambil meneteskan air mata, air mata kehilangan. Dia, takkan pernah tau betapa sakitnya aku saat itu, saat dia pergi dariku. Aku tak mampu berkata apapun, aku hanya menangis dalam diam, menyesali semuanya. Aku mencoba tegar, aku mencoba terus untuk menutup luka ini, luka yang kau beri. Aku mencoba bahagia dgn apa yg aku milikki saat itu. Aku mencoba bertahan dgn senyumanku.

"Yaa Allah, jaga dia selama dia jauh dari sisiku". Dan saat itu aku mulai sadar, inilah cinta pertamaku. Di dalam penantianku, ada seorang pria datang dgn membawa sejuta cinta. Aku masih ingin diam, dan diam menunggu cintaku kembali dalam pelukku. Namun kehadirannya membuat aku tertawa seperti dulu, tetapi sungguh dalam hati ini masih ada nama cinta pertamaku. Aku hanya mampu tertawa sesaat saja, setelah itu kembali menangis dalam diamku, dalam penantianku. Untuk sementara waktu, sakitku terobati oleh kehadirannya di dalam sepiku. Namun hanya sementara dan setelah itu kami berpisah...klik di sini untuk kelanjutan nya .

by yandre pramana putra

CERITA SEDIH

Ibadah haji merupakan salah satu rukun Islam yang lima dan diwajibkan bagi orang yang mampu. Ibadah ini dikaitkan dengan kemampuan karena haji merupakan sebuah perjalanan ibadah yang butuh pengorbanan besar berupa kemampuan materi dan kekuatan fisik. Bila sebuah ibadah dikaitkan langsung dengan kemampuan, berarti menunjukkan kesempurnaan hikmah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dalam meletakkan ibadah tersebut. Orang yang beriman akan menerima ketentuan ibadah tersebut tanpa berat hati. Karena mereka mengetahui bahwa tidak ada satupun bentuk syariat yang diletakkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala melainkan maslahatnya kembali bagi hamba. Tidak terkait sedikitpun dengan kebutuhan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala terhadap mereka. Di sisi lain, dikaitkannya ibadah haji ini dengan kemampuan hamba menunjukkan kasih sayang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang tinggi terhadap mereka. Semuanya ini telah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tegaskan di dalam firman-Nya:

لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللهُ نَفْسًا إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا

“Allah tidak membebani seseorang melainkan menurut kesanggupannya.” (Al-Baqarah: 286)

مَا يُرِيْدُ اللهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ حَرَجٍ

“Allah tidak menginginkan bagi kalian sesuatu yang memberatkan kalian.” (Al-Ma`idah: 6)

يُرِيْدُ اللهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيْدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ

“Allah menginginkan kemudahan buat kalian dan tidak menginginkan kesulitan.” (Al-Baqarah: 185)

وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّيْنِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ

“Dan Allah tidak menjadikan atas kalian dalam agama ini kesukaran.” (Al-Hajj: 78)
Diriwayatkan dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu, dia berkata:

خَطَبَنَا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ: أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ فَرَضَ اللهُ عَلَيْكُمُ الْحَجَّ فَحُجُّوا. فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ: أَكُلَّ عَامٍ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ؟ فَسَكَتَ حَتَّى قَالَهَا ثَلاَثًا، فَقَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: لَوْ قُلْتُ نَعَمْ لَوَجَبَتْ، وَلَمَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ. ثُمَّ قَالَ: ذَرُوْنِي مَا تَرَكْتُكُمْ فَإِنَّمَا هَلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ بِكَثْرَةِ سُؤَالِهِمْ وَاخْتِلاَفِهِمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ فَإِذَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَإِذَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْ شَيْءٍ فَدَعُوْهُ

Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam berkhutbah di hadapan kami, beliau berkata: “Wahai sekalian manusia, sungguh Allah telah mewajibkan bagi kalian haji maka berhajilah kalian!” Seseorang berkata: “Apakah setiap tahun, ya Rasulullah?” Beliau terdiam sehingga orang tersebut mengulangi ucapannya tiga kali. Lalu Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda: “Kalau aku katakan ya, niscaya akan wajib bagi kalian dan kalian tidak akan sanggup.” Kemudian beliau berkata: “Biarkanlah apa yang aku tinggalkan kepada kalian. Sesungguhnya orang sebelum kalian telah binasa karena mereka banyak bertanya yang tidak diperlukan dan menyelisihi nabi-nabi mereka. Jika aku memerintahkan sesuatu kepada kalian maka lakukanlah sesuai dengan kesanggupan kalian. Dan bila aku melarang kalian dari sesuatu maka tinggalkanlah.”1)

Diriwayatkan pula dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu bahwa Nabi Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda:

إِنَّ الدِّيْنَ يُسْرٌ وَلَنْ يُشَادَّ الدِّيْنَ أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ غَلَبَهُ فَسَدِّدُوا وَقَارِبُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا وَاسْتَعِيْنُوا بِالْغَدْوَةِ وَالرَّوْحَةِ وَشَيْءٍ مِنَ الدُّلْجَةِ

“Sesungguhnya agama ini mudah dan tidak ada seorangpun yang memberatkan diri padanya melainkan dia tidak akan sanggup. Berusahalah untuk tepat, mendekatlah, dan bergembiralah. Dan gunakanwaktu pagi dan petang serta sebagian dari waktu malam.”2)

Ibnul Munayyir berkata: “Di dalam hadits ini terdapat salah satu tanda kenabian. Dan kita telah menyaksikan, juga telah disaksikan pula oleh orang-orang sebelum kita, bahwa setiap orang yang berdalam-dalam menyelami agama akan tidak sanggup. Dan bukan berarti tidak boleh mencari yang lebih sempurna dalam ibadah, karena ini termasuk perkara yang terpuji. Yang dilarang adalah berlebih-lebihan yang akan menyebabkan kebosanan, atau berlebih-lebihan dalam menjalankan amalan sunnah sehingga meninggalkan yang lebih utama, atau mengeluarkan kewajiban dari waktunya, seperti seseorang yang semalam suntuk untuk qiyamul lail sehingga dia terlalaikan dari Shalat Subuh secara berjamaah atau sampai keluar dari waktu yang dipilih atau sampai terbit matahari yang akhirnya keluar dari waktu yang diwajibkan.” (Lihat Fathul Bari, 1/118)

Sikap Terpuji Orang yang Beriman
Orang berimanlah yang paling bergembira dengan semua bentuk ibadah yang diwajibkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Merekalah yang memiliki kesiapan untuk menjalankannya. Mereka juga memiliki keberanian untuk menghadapi segala kemungkinan yang akan terjadi dalam ketaatan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Mereka tetap tegar dan bersemangat, sekalipun anjuran Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya itu dianggap kecil dan sepele oleh kebanyakan orang. Sikap inilah yang telah digambarkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala di dalam firman-Nya:

إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوْلَ الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ إِذَا دُعُوا إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَنْ يَقُوْلُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا

“Sesungguhnya ucapan orang-orang yang beriman bila mereka diseru kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya untuk menghukumi di antara mereka, mereka mengatakan: ‘Kami mendengar dan kami taat’.” (An-Nur: 51)

وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلاَ مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللهُ وَرَسُوْلُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُوْنَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ

“Dan tidaklah patut bagi laki-laki yang mukmin dan tidak (pula) bagi perempuan yang mukmin, apabila Allah dan Rasul-Nya telah menetapkan suatu ketetapan, akan ada bagi mereka pilihan (yang lain) tentang urusan mereka.” (Al-Ahzab: 36)

فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُوْنَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوْكَ فِيْمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لاَ يَجِدُوا فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيْمًا

“Maka demi Rabbmu, mereka tidak akan beriman sehingga mereka menjadikanmu sebagai hakim dalam apa yang mereka perselisihkan, kemudian mereka tidak mendapatkan rasa berat pada diri-diri mereka (untuk menerima) apa yang kamu putuskan dan mereka menerima dengan sebenar-benarnya.” (An-Nisa`: 65)

Bingkisan Berharga bagi para Hujjaj (Jamaah Haji)

Salah satu perintah syariat adalah menunaikan ibadah haji. Pelaksanaan ibadah ini memiliki amalan-amalan yang berbeda dengan ibadah-ibadah lainnya. Amalan yang sangat membutuhkan keikhlasan niat yang tinggi, kejujuran iman, ketabahan jiwa dan ketundukan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang sempurna, kekuatan material dan spiritual. Hal ini terbukti dari awal perintah memakai pakaian ihram sampai akhir pelaksanaan ibadah tersebut.

Ada beberapa bingkisan berharga untuk saudaraku yang hendak menunaikan ibadah haji.
Pertama, Memperbaiki niat dan menjaga keikhlasan dalam pelaksanaan ibadah haji.
Keikhlasan adalah sebuah amalan hati yang sangat erat hubungannya dengan kemurniaan aqidah dan tauhid seseorang. Ketauhidan yang benar akan membuahkan keikhlasan yang murni dan hakiki. Keikhlasan yang murni merupakan perwujudan ketulusan persaksian hamba terhadap kalimat Laa ilaha illallah, tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.

Seseorang harus membangun semua ibadahnya di atas aqidah yang benar. Karena aqidah yang benar merupakan penentu diterimanya amalan seseorang. Berdasarkan hal inilah, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala menjadikan aqidah dan tauhid sebagai rukun Islam pertama melalui lisan Rasul-Nya. Dalam hadits Ibnu ‘Umar radhiyallahu 'anhuma, Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda:

بُنِيَ اْلإِسْلاَمُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلاَةِ وَإِيْتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ وَالْحَجِّ وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ

“Islam itu dibangun di atas lima dasar yaitu mempersaksikan bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah dan Muhammad adalah utusan-Nya, mendirikan shalat, menunaikan zakat, haji dan puasa pada bulan Ramadhan.”3
Jibril berkata dalam hadits ‘Umar radhiyallahu 'anhu:

يَا مُحَمَّدُ، أَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ اْلإِسْلاَمِ. فَقَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: اْلإِسْلاَمُ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَنْ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُوْلُ اللهِ -صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ- وَتُقِيْمَ الصَّلاَةَ وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ وَتَصُوْمَ رَمَضَانَ وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيْلاً

“Wahai Muhammad, beritahukan kepadaku tentang Islam!” Beliau menjawab: “Engkau mempersaksikan bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah dan bahwa Muhammad adalah utusan Allah, mendirikan shalat, menunaikan zakat, puasa dan haji ke Baitullah bila engkau mampu menempuh perjalanan ke sana.”4
Bila aqidah seseorang menyelisihi aqidah yang diajarkan oleh Al-Qur`an dan As-Sunnah, tentu akan merusak niatnya. Atau niatnya akan tercampuri dengan niatan yang lain. Bahkan tidak menutup kemungkinan, dia berangkat menunaikan ibadah haji dibarengi dengan niat-niat yang mengandung kesyirikan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, seperti niat meminta kepada Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam di makam beliau, atau di sisi kuburan-kuburan yang menurut penilaian banyak pihak bahwa tempat tersebut berbarakah dan keramat. Atau berniat meminta keberkahan hidup, kekayaan, naik pangkat, laris dalam berniaga, lulus dalam ujian, meminta harta benda, dan segala yang berbau keuntungan duniawi, kepada selain Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.

Membangun ibadah haji di atas kemurnian aqidah akan berbuah nilai positif di dunia setelah melakukan ibadah tersebut, dan di akhirat karena mendapatkan haji mabrur yang diterima. Berbeda dengan orang yang membangun ibadah hajinya di atas kerusakan aqidah, seperti:

a. Aqidah Sufiyyah yang pada ujungnya adalah kufur kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, sebagaimana ucapan seorang pentolan Sufiyyah, Ibnu ‘Arabi:
Ar-Rabb adalah hamba dan hamba adalah Rabb
Aduhai kalau demikian siapa yang akan melaksanakan beban (syariat)
Dalam kesempatan lain dia mengucapkan:
Tiadalah anjing dan babi melainkan tuhan kita
b. Aqidah Syi’ah dengan berbagai sempalannya yang mengaku memuliakan ahlu bait Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, padahal mereka jauh dari hal itu dan justru mencaci maki para shahabat beliau.
c. Aqidah Jahmiyyah yang mengingkari nama dan sifat-sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
d. Aqidah Mu’tazilah yang menuhankan akal dan mengingkari sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
e. Aqidah Asy’ariyyah yang menafikan sebahagian sifat-sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
dan berbagai bentuk aqidah rusak lainnya.

Niat merupakan asas pertama dan utama diterimanya amal. Sehingga bila niat telah rusak maka akan merusak yang lain. Yang paling berbahaya sebagai perusak niat adalah riya` dan sum’ah, yaitu memperdengarkan amalan-amalan atau perjalanan yang penuh kenangan dan peristiwa aneh dengan tujuan mendapatkan pujian. Betapa banyak orang yang tidak mendapatkan haji yang mabrur karena memiliki niat yang rusak. Misalnya ingin menjadi orang terhormat karena bergelar haji di depan namanya, disanjung, dipuji, disebut pak haji, dan sebagainya.
Kewajiban mengikhlaskan niat ini telah dijelaskan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya:

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُوا اللهَ مُخْلِصِيْنَ لَهُ الدِّيْنَ

“Dan tidaklah mereka diperintahkan melainkan agar mereka beribadah kepada Allah dengan mengikhlaskan baginya agama.” (Al-Bayyinah: 5)

إِنَّمَا اْلأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّةِ وَإِنَّمَا لاِمْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ لِدُنْيَا يُصِيْبُهَا أَوِ امْرَأَةٍ يَتَزَوَّجُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِ

“Sesungguhnya amalan itu sah dengan niat. Dan setiap orang akan mendapatkan apa yang dia niatkan. Maka barangsiapa yang hijrahnya kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya, maka dia telah hijrah kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya. Dan barangsiapa yang hijrah untuk dunia yang ingin diperoleh atau wanita yang ingin dinikahinya maka dia telah berhijrah kepada apa yang dia telah niatkan.”5
Setiap amalan tergantung niatnya. Dan niat tersebut kembali kepada keikhlasan, yaitu niat yang satu untuk Dzat yang satu, yaitu Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. (Fathul Bari, 1/14)
Hadits di atas menjelaskan tentang kedudukan niat sebagai landasan diterimanya amal seseorang. Oleh karena itu, banyak komentar para ulama tentang kedudukan hadits niat ini. Contohnya Al-Imam Asy-Syafi’i mengatakan: “Hadits ini masuk dalam 70 bab dalam bidang ilmu.”

Abu Abdillah (Al-Imam Ahmad) mengatakan: “Tidak ada hadits Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam yang lebih padat, lebih kaya, dan lebih banyak faedahnya daripada hadits ini (yakni hadits tentang niat).”
Ibnu Mahdi mengatakan: “Hadits ini masuk pada 30 bab dalam bidang ilmu.”
Beliau rahimahullah juga mengatakan: “Sepantasnya hadits ini diletakkan dalam setiap bab ilmu.” (Fathul Bari, 1/13)

شَرَعَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الدِّيْنِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوْحًا

“Allah telah mensyariatkan bagi kalian agama yang telah Dia wasiatkan kepada Nuh.” (Asy-Syura: 13)
Abul ‘Aliyah rahimahullah berkata: “Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala mewasiatkan kepada mereka agar ikhlas dalam beribadah kepada-Nya.” (Fathul Bari, 1/13)
Ibnu Rajab menjelaskan: “Setiap amalan yang tidak diniatkan untuk Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala maka amalan tersebut adalah batil, tidak memiliki buah di dunia dan di akhirat.” (Jami’ Al-’Ulum Wal Hikam hal. 11)

Kedua, Mencontoh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam setiap pelaksanaan ibadah haji
Mencontoh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam pelaksanaan ibadah haji merupakan syarat kedua diterimanya amalan haji seseorang setelah syarat ikhlas. Mulai awal pelaksanaan haji sampai akhirnya, tidak diperbolehkan mengada-adakan sesuatu sedikitpun. Bila ada amalan yang tidak sesuai dengan tuntunan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, niscaya tidak akan diterima oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Hal ini berdasarkan hadits Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam:

مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدٌّ -وَفِي رِوَايَةٍ لِمُسْلِمٍ- مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلاً لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرُنَا فَهُوَ رَدٌّ

“Barangsiapa yang mengada-ada dalam urusan kami yang tidak ada ajarannya dari kami maka amalan tersebut tertolak.”
Dalam riwayat Muslim disebutkan: “Barangsiapa yang melakukan amalan yang tidak ada tuntunannya dari kami maka amalan tersebut tertolak.”6
Sekecil dan seringan apapun, amalan ibadah haji tersebut harus sesuai dengan tuntunan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Dalam hal ini, segenap kaum muslimin tidak boleh berpedoman dengan pengajaran dan bimbingan orang tua dahulu, atau guru-guru kita, namun harus berpedoman dengan dalil-dalil.

Ibnu Rajab rahimahullah menjelaskan: “Semua amalan yang dilakukan harus di bawah ketentuan hukum-hukum syariat. Hukum syariat menjadi hakim terhadap semua amalan, baik dalam hal perintah maupun larangan. Sehingga barangsiapa yang amalannya berjalan di bawah ketentuan syariat dan sesuai dengannya maka diterima. Dan bila keluar dari hukum syariat maka amalan tersebut tertolak.” (Jami’ Al-’Ulum Wal Hikam hal. 83)

Haji Mabrur Diraih dengan Kedua Syarat di Atas
Dengan kedua syarat di atas, seseorang akan bisa meraih keutamaan haji mabrur yaitu haji yang diterima di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, menurut salah satu pendapat ulama. Tanda diterimanya ibadah haji adalah dia pulang dalam keadaan lebih baik dari sebelumnya dan tidak kembali kepada perbuatan maksiat. Ada yang berpendapat bahwa yang dimaksud adalah haji yang tidak dijangkiti penyakit riya`. Dan ada pula yang berpendapat maksudnya yaitu haji yang tidak diiringi kemaksiatan setelahnya.
Imam An-Nawawi rahimahullah menguatkan pendapat ini. Dan yang paling masyhur adalah pendapat bahwa haji mabrur adalah haji yang tidak dicampuri dengan kemaksiatan. (Syarh Muslim, 5/119)
Para hujjaj sangat mengidamkan keutamaan ini. Namun di antara mereka ada yang tidak memerhatikan kiat yang akan mengantarkan dirinya untuk mendapatkannya. Bila seseorang tidak membangun ibadah hajinya di atas kedua landasan di atas, maka dia tidak akan mendapatkannya. Hal itu merupakan sesuatu yang pasti berdasarkan dalil-dalil di atas. Tentang haji mabrur, telah disebutkan oleh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam dalam banyak sabdanya. Di antaranya:
Diriwayatkan dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu, dia berkata:

أَنَّ رَسُوْلَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ سُئِلَ: أَيُّ الْعَمَلِ أَفْضَلُ؟ فَقَالَ: إِيْمَانٌ بِاللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ. قِيْلَ: ثُمَّ مَاذَا؟ قَالَ: الْجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيْلِ اللهِ. قِيْلَ: ثُمَّ مَاذَا؟ قَالَ: حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ

Bahwasanya Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam ditanya tentang amalan yang paling utama lalu beliau menjawab: “Iman kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya.” Ditanyakan kepada beliau: “Kemudian apa?” Beliau berkata: “Berjihad di jalan Allah.” Ditanyakan lagi kepada beliau: “Kemudian apa?” Beliau berkata: “Haji yang mabrur.”7
Diriwayatkan dari ‘Aisyah Ummul Mukminin radhiyallahu 'anha, ia berkata:

يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ، نَرَى الْجِهَادَ أَفْضَلَ الْعَمَلِ، أَفَلاَ نُجَاهِدُ؟ قَالَ: لاَ، لَكِنَّ أَفْضَلَ الْجِهَادِ حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ

“Ya Rasulullah, kami berpendapat bahwa jihad adalah amalan yang paling utama. Tidakkah kami ikut berjihad?” Beliau berkata: “Tidak. Akan tetapi jihad yang paling utama (bagi wanita) adalah haji mabrur.”
Dalam riwayat Al-Imam An-Nasa`i disebutkan dengan lafadz:

قُلْتُ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ، أَلاَ نَخْرُجُ فَنُجَاهِدَ مَعَكَ فَإِنِّي لاَ أَرَى عَمَلاً فِي الْقُرْآنِ أَفْضَلَ مِنَ الْجِهَادِ. قَالَ: لاَ، وَلَكِنَّ أَحْسَنَ الْجِهَادِ وَأَجْمَلَهُ حَجُّ الْبَيْتِ حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ

Aku berkata: “Ya Rasulullah, tidakkah kami keluar ikut berjihad bersamamu karena aku tidak melihat di dalam Al-Qur`an ada amalan yang paling utama daripada jihad?” Beliau bersabda: “Tidak. Akan tetapi sebaik-baik jihad dan yang paling indah adalah haji ke Baitullah, yaitu haji yang mabrur.” (Dishahihkan Al-Albani dalam Shahih An-Nasa`i no. 2628)
Diriwayatkan dari Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu 'anhu, bahwa Rasululah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam bersabda:

الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَالْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةُ

“Umrah yang satu ke umrah berikutnya merupakan penghapus dosa di antara keduanya, dan haji yang mabrur tidak ada balasannya melainkan surga.”8
Demikianlah beberapa dalil yang menunjukkan keutamaan haji yang mabrur dan tidak ada balasan bagi haji yang mabrur melainkan surga. Al-Imam An-Nawawi menjelaskan: “Pelaku haji tersebut tidak hanya terhapus dosa-dosanya, bahkan dia mesti masuk ke dalam surga.” (Syarh Muslim, 5/119)
Demikianlah kedudukan dua syarat diterimanya setiap amalan hamba, yaitu ikhlas dan mencontoh Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Sehingga yang dituntut dari seorang hamba dalam ibadahnya adalah bagaimana dia memperbaiki ibadahnya, bukan hanya bagaimana memperbanyaknya. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:

الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلاً

“Allah yang telah menciptakan mati dan hidup untuk menguji kalian siapa yang paling baik amalannya.” (Al-Mulk: 2)
Ibnu Katsir menjelaskan: “Makna ayat ini adalah Dialah yang telah menjadikan makhluk dari tidak ada menjadi ada, untuk menguji mereka siapa yang paling baik amalnya.” Muhammad bin ‘Ajlan berkata: “Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tidak mengatakan yang paling banyak amalannya.” (Tafsir Ibnu Katsir, 4/414)

Ketiga, Iman yang benar kepada Allah
Beriman kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala merupakan salah satu rukun iman yang enam dan merupakan intisari keimanan terhadap rukun iman yang lain. Bila keimanan seseorang kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tidak benar, maka akan menjadi barometer kepincangan imannya terhadap rukun iman yang lain.

Keimanan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala mencakup banyak perkara, di antaranya:

1. Meyakini bahwa Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala adalah Dzat yang berhak untuk disembah, dan segala bentuk penyembahan serta pengagungan terhadap selain-Nya adalah batil.

ذلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُوْنَ مِنْ دُوْنِهِ هُوَ الْبَاطِلُ وَأَنَّ اللهَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيْرُ

“Demikianlah bahwa Allah adalah Al-Haq (untuk disembah) dan apa yang mereka sembah selainnya adalah batil dan Allah Maha Kaya dan Maha Besar.” (Al-Hajj: 62)
Pengagungan terhadap selain Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala banyak bentuknya. Di antaranya mengagungkan kuburan-kuburan tertentu, orang-orang tertentu, tempat-tempat yang dikeramatkan, pohon-pohon, batu-batu, jimat-jimat, jin-jin, dan sebagainya. Semuanya akan merusak keimanan seseorang kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan akan mengarah kepada tercabutnya keimanan dari diri mereka.


2. Mengimani segala apa yang diwajibkan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala kepada hamba-hamba-Nya berupa pelaksanaan rukun Islam yang lima secara lahiriah dan kewajiban lainnya yang telah dibebankan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala kepada setiap hamba. Di antara lima rukun Islam, yang paling besar dan paling utama adalah persaksian terhadap dua kalimat syahadat. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:

فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ

“Maka ketahuilah bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah.” (Muhammad: 19)
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman pula:

شَهِدَ اللهُ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ وَالْمَلاَئِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْعَزِيْزُ الْحَكِيْمُ

“Dan Allah telah bersaksi bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Dia dan para malaikat serta orang-orang yang berilmu ikut mempersaksikan dengan penuh keadilan bahwa tidak ada sesembahan yang benar melainkan Allah dan Dia Maha Mulia dan Maha Bijaksana.” (Ali ‘Imran: 18)
3. Mengimani bahwa Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang menciptakan dan mengatur segala urusan alam ini dan memantau mereka dengan ilmu serta kebijaksanaan. Dia yang memiliki dunia dan akhirat. Tidak ada pencipta selain-Nya dan tidak ada yang sanggup mengatur urusan makhluk ini kecuali Dia. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala telah mengutus para nabi dan menurunkan kitab-kitab untuk kemaslahatan hamba dan untuk menyeru mereka kepada jalan menuju keberhasilan dan keselamatan hidup di dunia dan akhirat.
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ لاَ تَسْجُدُوا لِلشَّمْسِ وَلاَ لِلْقَمَرِ وَاسْجُدُوا لِلّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَهُنَّ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُوْنَ

“Dan termasuk tanda-tanda kebesaran Allah adalah adanya malam dan siang, matahari dan bulan. (Oleh karena itu) janganlah kalian sujud kepada matahari dan bulan, namun sujudlah kalian kepada Allah yang telah menciptakannya jika kalian hanya beribadah kepada-Nya.” (Fushshilat: 37)
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala berfirman:

إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَاْلأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيْثًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُوْمَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ أَلاَ لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَاْلأَمْرُ تَبَارَكَ اللهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ

“Sesungguhnya Allah telah menciptakan langit-langit dan bumi dalam enam hari kemudian Dia beristiwa` di atas ‘Arsy. Allah menutup siang dengan malam yang terjadi dengan cepat (dan Dialah yang telah menciptakan) matahari, bulan, dan bintang-bintang yang semuanya tunduk di bawah perintah-Nya, ketahuilah hak Allah untuk mencipta dan memerintah, dan Maha suci Allah Rabb semesta alam.” (Al-A’raf: 54)

4. Mengimani nama-nama dan sifat-sifat Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala yang baik dan tinggi, yang dijelaskan dalam Al-Kitab dan As-Sunnah, tanpa memalingkan dan menyelewengkan maknanya sedikitpun dari apa yang dimaukan oleh Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya, serta tanpa menyerupakan-Nya dengan sifat-sifat makhluk.

وَلِلّهِ اْلأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَى فَادْعُوْهُ بِهَا وَذَرُوا الَّذِيْنَ يُلْحِدُوْنَ فِي أَسْمَائِهِ سَيُجْزَوْنَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُوْنَ

“Dan Allah memiliki nama-nama yang baik maka berdoalah kalian dengannya dan biarkanlah orang-orang yang menyeleweng dari nama-nama Allah dan mereka pasti akan dibalas atas apa yang telah mereka perbuat.” (Al-A’raf: 180)

وَلَهُ الْمَثَلُ اْلأَعْلَى فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَاْلأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيْزُ الْحَكِيْمُ

“Dan bagi Allah perumpamaan yang tinggi di langit-langit dan di bumi, dan Dia Maha Mulia dan Maha Bijaksana.” (Ar-Rum: 27)

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيْعُ الْبَصِيْرُ

“Dan tidak ada sesuatupun yang serupa dengan Allah dan Dia Maha Mendengar lagi Maha Melihat.” (Asy-Syura: 11)
Larangan berbicara tentang Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala tanpa ilmu telah diperingatkan oleh-Nya di dalam firman-Nya:

وَلاَ تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُوْلاً

“Dan janganlah kamu mengatakan apa yang kamu tidak memiliki ilmu padanya. Sesungguhnya pendengaran, penglihatan, dan hati, semuanya akan dimintai pertanggungjawaban.” (Al-Isra`: 36)

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَاْلإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَنْ تُشْرِكُوا بِاللهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَنْ تَقُوْلُوا عَلَى اللهِ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُوْنَ

“Katakan: ‘Sesungguhnya Rabbku telah mengharamkan kekejian yang nampak maupun yang tidak nampak, mengharamkan dosa, perbuatan dzalim tanpa alasan yang benar dan mengharamkan kalian menyekutu-kan Allah dengan sesuatu yang tidak pernah Allah turunkan keterangan tentangnya, dan mengharamkan berkata tentang Allah tanpa dasar ilmu.” (Al-A’raf: 33)

Demikianlah beberapa kiat untuk memperbaiki keimanan kita kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, agar semua amal yang kita kerjakan dibangun di atas keimanan kepada-Nya. Bila ibadah haji seseorang dibangun di atas keimanan kepada-Nya tentu semua niatan akan diarahkan kepada-Nya. Dia tentunya tidak akan keluar dari tuntunan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala dan Rasul-Nya dalam pelaksanaan haji tersebut, sehingga bisa mendapatkan haji mabrur di sisi Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. Demikianlah buah keimanan kepada Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
Wallahu a‘lam.

1 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 6744 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 2380
2 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 38
3 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 7 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 19, 20, 21, 22.
4 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Muslim no. 9
5 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 1 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 3530
6 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 2499 dan Al-Muslim no. 3242
7 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari no. 25
8 Diriwayatkan oleh Al-Imam Al-Buhari no. 1650 dan Al-Imam Muslim no. 2403

Baca Artikel Lainnya : 50 PELAJARAN PENTING DARI HAJI

 

PERBEKALAN UNTUK JAMAAH HAJI

Selama ini Anda telah mengenal kafein identik dengan kopi. Padahal kafein sendiri adalah senyawa kimia yang telah ditemukan di dalam suatu jenis makanan atau minuman tertentu, termasuk terdapat di dalam kopi.

Banyak kontroversi yang berkembang tentang baik dan buruknya kafein untuk kesehatan. Oleh karena itu sebelum mengonsumsinya, inilah hal yang harus Anda ketahui tentang kafein :

Kebutuhan kafein bervariasi
Setiap orang telah memiliki kondisi kesehatan dan kebutuhan nutrisi yang berbeda. Begitu pula dengan kebutuhan akan kafein. Terutama kebutuhan akan kafein didasarkan pada keadaan metabolisme tubuh, apakah Anda sedang mengonsumsi obat-obatan atau tidak, tingkat insomnia, dan apakah Anda sedang mengandung atau tidak.

Kopi berkafein dan non kafein
Setiap kopi telah mengandung kafein. Namun ada jenis kopi decaf, yaitu kopi yang sudah dihilangkan sebagian besar kafeinnya.

Kafein di dalam kopi
Setiap jenis dan olahan kopi juga mengandung kafein yang sangat berbeda-beda di dalamnya. Secangkir kopi hitam telah memiliki kandungan kafein yang lebih banyak jika dibandingkan dengan kopi susu atau kopi instan lainnya.

Kafein di dalam minuman berenergi
kafein yang ada di dalam kopi bermanfaat untuk dapat membuat tubuh Anda lebih awas. Namun sebuah penelitian telah menunjukkan bahwa kafein yang ada di dalam minuman berenergi justru dapat meningkatkan berat badan sebanyak 29%.

Kafein mengurangi risiko alzheimer
Dalam sebuah penelitian yang berbasis di Florida, peneliti menemukan bahwa mereka yang mengonsumsi kopi sebanyak 3 cangkir sehari mampu terhindar dari risiko penyakit alzheimer.

Kafein menyembuhkan peradangan
Penelitian lain yang dilakukan di University of Illinois menunjukkan bahwa kafein mampu menghalangi peradangan otak yang dapat menyebabkan penyakit otak.

Efek kafein pada kehamilan
Ibu hamil sebaiknya mengurangi konsumsi kafein. Sebab beberapa penelitian juga menunjukkan bahwa ibu hamil yang mengonsumsi kafein secara berlebihan akan berisiko melahirkan bayi prematur, termasuk gangguan pertumbuhan buah hati di masa mendatang.

Pengaruh kafein pada pria dan wanita
Kafein mempunyai pengaruh yang berbeda-beda pada pria dan wanita. Konsumsi kafein akan menurunkan risiko diabetes pada pria, sementara pada wanita justru yang terjadi adalah sebaliknya.

Menghindarkan kanker
Kafein juga mampu memerangi kanker. Wanita yang minum 4 cangkir kopi sehari akan mengalami penurunan risiko kanker endometrium sebanyak 25%.

Itulah beberapa hal tentang kafein yang selama ini jarang terungkap. Kafein dapat bermanfaat positif dan negatif pada tubuh Anda tergantung bagaimana Anda mengonsumsinya.

Ternyata, kafein menyimpan 9 rahasia kesehatan tersembunyi ini!

saco-indonesia.com,

Pemilihan Dan Pengolahan Tanah

Batu bata juga merupakan salah satu bahan dasar dalam proses membuat tembok rumah atau bangunan lain yang telah banyak digunakan oleh masyarakat Indonesia. Permintaan batu bata terus akan meningkat seiring dengan banyaknya masyarakat yang ingin membangun maupun merenofasi rumahnya. Untuk itu, proses pembuatan batu bata juga dapat member peluang bisnis yang sangat menjanjikan.

Agar dapat mencapai kesuksesan, maka perlu memperhatikan langkah-langkah sebagai berikut;

Memilih Tanah Yang Tepat

Hampir semua jenis tanah dapat digunakan sebagai bahan pembuatan batu bata kecuali tanah yang telah mengandung pasir atau kapur. Tanah yang mengandung pasir atau kapur akan dapat membuat batu bata mudah pecah.

Sedangkan untuk dapat menegtahui tanah itu cocok untuk proses pembuatan batu bata, maka ada cara untuk dapat mengetahuinya.

Pertama, ambil tanah tersebut, campur dengan air, kemudian diaduk hingga rata. Setelah itu diinjak-injak hingga lumat dan buang kerikil maupun kotoran yang ada. Setelah lumat, tanah direndam selama sehari semalam dan jangan sampe terkena panas matahri. Jika tanah tersebut tidak merekah, berarti tanah tersebut baik untuk bahan batu bata.

Kedua, tanah tersebut dikeringkan dan di bakar, jika berwarna merah menyala saat dibakar, maka bahan tersebut sangat baik untuk proses pembuatan batu bata.

Pengolahan Tanah

Sebelum tanah diolah sebagai bahan pembuatan batu bata, tanah tersebut harus dibuat gumpalan-gumpalan dan dijemur hingga kering. Kemudian tanah dimasukan ke dalam bak pengolahan tanah sebagai bahan pembuatan batu bata. Bak tersebut tidak memiliki ukuran yang baku, hanya disesuaikan dengan kebutuhan. Di bagian dasar bak tersebut diberi sekam padi secukupnya.

Tanah yang sudah dimasukan dalam bak pengolahan, kemudian diisi air hingga penuh. Diamkan selama 2 jam agar tanah terbasahi oleh air sepenuhnya. Kemudian tanah diaduk hingga rata dan diinjak-injak hingga telah menjadi halus. Sampah yang ada dalam tanah tersebut juga harus dibuang agar hasilnya bagus.

Saat mengaduk, ada baiknya dicampur dengan abu dapur atau sekam padi agar tanah tersebut semakin merekat. Setelah tanah benar-benar halus (lumat), tanah tersebut dibiarkab selama 12 jam agar tanah menjadi liat.


Editor : Dian Sukmawati

PEMILIHAN DAN PENGOLAHAN TANAH

Over the last five years or so, it seemed there was little that Dean G. Skelos, the majority leader of the New York Senate, would not do for his son.

He pressed a powerful real estate executive to provide commissions to his son, a 32-year-old title insurance salesman, according to a federal criminal complaint. He helped get him a job at an environmental company and employed his influence to help the company get government work. He used his office to push natural gas drilling regulations that would have increased his son’s commissions.

He even tried to direct part of a $5.4 billion state budget windfall to fund government contracts that the company was seeking. And when the company was close to securing a storm-water contract from Nassau County, the senator, through an intermediary, pressured the company to pay his son more — or risk having the senator subvert the bid.

The criminal complaint, unsealed on Monday, lays out corruption charges against Senator Skelos and his son, Adam B. Skelos, the latest scandal to seize Albany, and potentially alter its power structure.

Photo
 
Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, discussed the case involving Dean G. Skelos and his son, Adam. Credit Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

The repeated and diverse efforts by Senator Skelos, a Long Island Republican, to use what prosecutors said was his political influence to find work, or at least income, for his son could send both men to federal prison. If they are convicted of all six charges against them, they face up to 20 years in prison for each of four of the six counts and up to 10 years for the remaining two.

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, of Long Island, who serves as chairman of the Republican conference, emerged from a closed-door meeting Monday night to say that conference members agreed that Mr. Skelos should be benefited the “presumption of innocence,” and would stay in his leadership role.

“The leader has indicated he would like to remain as leader,” said Mr. LaValle, “and he has the support of the conference.” The case against Mr. Skelos and his son grew out of a broader inquiry into political corruption by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, that has already changed the face of the state capital. It is based in part, according to the six-count complaint, on conversations secretly recorded by one of two cooperating witnesses, and wiretaps on the cellphones of the senator and his son. Those recordings revealed that both men were concerned about electronic surveillance, and illustrated the son’s unsuccessful efforts to thwart it.

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Adam Skelos took to using a “burner” phone, the complaint says, and told his father he wanted them to speak through a FaceTime video call in an apparent effort to avoid detection. They also used coded language at times.

At one point, Adam Skelos was recorded telling a Senate staff member of his frustration in not being able to speak openly to his father on the phone, noting that he could not “just send smoke signals or a little pigeon” carrying a message.

The 43-page complaint, sworn out by Paul M. Takla, a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, outlines a five-year scheme to “monetize” the senator’s official position; it also lays bare the extent to which a father sought to use his position to help his son.

The charges accuse the two men of extorting payments through a real estate developer, Glenwood Management, based on Long Island, and the environmental company, AbTech Industries, in Scottsdale, Ariz., with the expectation that the money paid to Adam Skelos — nearly $220,000 in total — would influence his father’s actions.

Glenwood, one of the state’s most prolific campaign donors, had ties to AbTech through investments in the environmental firm’s parent company by Glenwood’s founding family and a senior executive.

The accusations in the complaint portray Senator Skelos as a man who, when it came to his son, was not shy about twisting arms, even in situations that might give other arm-twisters pause.

Seeking to help his son, Senator Skelos turned to the executive at Glenwood, which develops rental apartments in New York City and has much at stake when it comes to real estate legislation in Albany. The senator urged him to direct business to his son, who sold title insurance.

After much prodding, the executive, Charles C. Dorego, engineered a $20,000 payment to Adam Skelos from a title insurance company even though he did no work for the money. But far more lucrative was a consultant position that Mr. Dorego arranged for Adam Skelos at AbTech, which seeks government contracts to treat storm water. (Mr. Dorego is not identified by name in the complaint, but referred to only as CW-1, for Cooperating Witness 1.)

Senator Skelos appeared to take an active interest in his son’s new line of work. Adam Skelos sent him several drafts of his consulting agreement with AbTech, the complaint says, as well as the final deal that was struck.

“Mazel tov,” his father replied.

Senator Skelos sent relevant news articles to his son, including one about a sewage leak near Albany. When AbTech wanted to seek government contracts after Hurricane Sandy, the senator got on a conference call with his son and an AbTech executive, Bjornulf White, and offered advice. (Like Mr. Dorego, Mr. White is not named in the complaint, but referred to as CW-2.)

The assistance paid off: With the senator’s help, AbTech secured a contract worth up to $12 million from Nassau County, a big break for a struggling small business.

But the money was slow to materialize. The senator expressed impatience with county officials.

Adam Skelos, in a phone call with Mr. White in late December, suggested that his father would seek to punish the county. “I tell you this, the state is not going to do a [expletive] thing for the county,” he said.

Three days later, Senator Skelos pressed his case with the Nassau County executive, Edward P. Mangano, a fellow Republican. “Somebody feels like they’re just getting jerked around the last two years,” the senator said, referring to his son in what the complaint described as “coded language.”

The next day, the senator pursued the matter, as he and Mr. Mangano attended a wake for a slain New York City police officer. Senator Skelos then reassured his son, who called him while he was still at the wake. “All claims that are in will be taken care of,” the senator said.

AbTech’s fortunes appeared to weigh on his son. At one point in January, Adam Skelos told his father that if the company did not succeed, he would “lose the ability to pay for things.”

Making matters worse, in recent months, Senator Skelos and his son appeared to grow wary about who was watching them. In addition to making calls on the burner phone, Adam Skelos said he used the FaceTime video calling “because that doesn’t show up on the phone bill,” as he told Mr. White.

In late February, Adam Skelos arranged a pair of meetings between Mr. White and state senators; AbTech needed to win state legislation that would allow its contract to move beyond its initial stages. But Senator Skelos deemed the plan too risky and caused one of the meetings to be canceled.

In another recorded call, Adam Skelos, promising to be “very, very vague” on the phone, urged his father to allow the meeting. The senator offered a warning. “Right now we are in dangerous times, Adam,” he told him.

A month later, in another phone call that was recorded by the authorities, Adam Skelos complained that his father could not give him “real advice” about AbTech while the two men were speaking over the telephone.

“You can’t talk normally,” he told his father, “because it’s like [expletive] Preet Bharara is listening to every [expletive] phone call. It’s just [expletive] frustrating.”

“It is,” his father agreed.

Dean Skelos, Albany Senate Leader, Aided Son at All Costs, U.S. Says

WASHINGTON — A decade after emergency trailers meant to shelter Hurricane Katrina victims instead caused burning eyes, sore throats and other more serious ailments, the Environmental Protection Agency is on the verge of regulating the culprit: formaldehyde, a chemical that can be found in commonplace things like clothes and furniture.

But an unusual assortment of players, including furniture makers, the Chinese government, Republicans from states with a large base of furniture manufacturing and even some Democrats who championed early regulatory efforts, have questioned the E.P.A. proposal. The sustained opposition has held sway, as the agency is now preparing to ease key testing requirements before it releases the landmark federal health standard.

The E.P.A.’s five-year effort to adopt this rule offers another example of how industry opposition can delay and hamper attempts by the federal government to issue regulations, even to control substances known to be harmful to human health.

Continue reading the main story
 

Document: The Formaldehyde Fight

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that can also cause respiratory ailments like asthma, but the potential of long-term exposure to cause cancers like myeloid leukemia is less well understood.

The E.P.A.’s decision would be the first time that the federal government has regulated formaldehyde inside most American homes.

“The stakes are high for public health,” said Tom Neltner, senior adviser for regulatory affairs at the National Center for Healthy Housing, who has closely monitored the debate over the rules. “What we can’t have here is an outcome that fails to confront the health threat we all know exists.”

The proposal would not ban formaldehyde — commonly used as an ingredient in wood glue in furniture and flooring — but it would impose rules that prevent dangerous levels of the chemical’s vapors from those products, and would set testing standards to ensure that products sold in the United States comply with those limits. The debate has sharpened in the face of growing concern about the safety of formaldehyde-treated flooring imported from Asia, especially China.

What is certain is that a lot of money is at stake: American companies sell billions of dollars’ worth of wood products each year that contain formaldehyde, and some argue that the proposed regulation would impose unfair costs and restrictions.

Determined to block the agency’s rule as proposed, these industry players have turned to the White House, members of Congress and top E.P.A. officials, pressing them to roll back the testing requirements in particular, calling them redundant and too expensive.

“There are potentially over a million manufacturing jobs that will be impacted if the proposed rule is finalized without changes,” wrote Bill Perdue, the chief lobbyist at the American Home Furnishings Alliance, a leading critic of the testing requirements in the proposed regulation, in one letter to the E.P.A.

Industry opposition helped create an odd alignment of forces working to thwart the rule. The White House moved to strike out key aspects of the proposal. Subsequent appeals for more changes were voiced by players as varied as Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, and Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, as well as furniture industry lobbyists.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 helped ignite the public debate over formaldehyde, after the deadly storm destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes along the Gulf of Mexico, forcing families into temporary trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The displaced storm victims quickly began reporting respiratory problems, burning eyes and other issues, and tests then confirmed high levels of formaldehyde fumes leaking into the air inside the trailers, which in many cases had been hastily constructed.

Public health advocates petitioned the E.P.A. to issue limits on formaldehyde in building materials and furniture used in homes, given that limits already existed for exposure in workplaces. But three years after the storm, only California had issued such limits.

Industry groups like the American Chemistry Council have repeatedly challenged the science linking formaldehyde to cancer, a position championed by David Vitter, the Republican senator from Louisiana, who is a major recipient of chemical industry campaign contributions, and whom environmental groups have mockingly nicknamed “Senator Formaldehyde.”

Continue reading the main story

Formaldehyde in Laminate Flooring

In laminate flooring, formaldehyde is used as a bonding agent in the fiberboard (or other composite wood) core layer and may also be used in glues that bind layers together. Concerns were raised in March when certain laminate flooring imported from China was reported to contain levels of formaldehyde far exceeding the limit permitted by California.

Typical

laminate

flooring

CLEAR FINISH LAYER

Often made of melamine resin

PATTERN LAYER

Paper printed to resemble wood,

or a thin wood veneer

GLUE

Layers may be bound using

formaldehyde-based glues

CORE LAYER

Fiberboard or other

composite, formed using

formaldehyde-based adhesives

BASE LAYER

Moisture-resistant vapor barrier

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a common chemical used in many industrial and household products as an adhesive, bonding agent or preservative. It is classified as a volatile organic compound. The term volatile means that, at room temperature, formaldehyde will vaporize, or become a gas. Products made with formaldehyde tend to release this gas into the air. If breathed in large quantities, it may cause health problems.

WHERE IT IS COMMONLY FOUND

POTENTIAL HEALTH RISKS

Pressed-wood and composite wood products

Wallpaper and paints

Spray foam insulation used in construction

Commercial wood floor finishes

Crease-resistant fabrics

In cigarette smoke, or in the fumes from combustion of other materials, including wood, oil and gasoline.

Exposure to formaldehyde in sufficient amounts may cause eye, throat or skin irritation, allergic reactions, and respiratory problems like coughing, wheezing or asthma.

Long-term exposure to high levels has been associated with cancer in humans and laboratory animals.

Exposure to formaldehyde may affect some people more severely than others.

By 2010, public health advocates and some industry groups secured bipartisan support in Congress for legislation that ordered the E.P.A. to issue federal rules that largely mirrored California’s restrictions. At the time, concerns were rising over the growing number of lower-priced furniture imports from Asia that might include contaminated products, while also hurting sales of American-made products.

Maneuvering began almost immediately after the E.P.A. prepared draft rules to formally enact the new standards.

White House records show at least five meetings in mid-2012 with industry executives — kitchen cabinet makers, chemical manufacturers, furniture trade associations and their lobbyists, like Brock R. Landry, of the Venable law firm. These parties, along with Senator Vitter’s office, appealed to top administration officials, asking them to intervene to roll back the E.P.A. proposal.

The White House Office of Management and Budget, which reviews major federal regulations before they are adopted, apparently agreed. After the White House review, the E.P.A. “redlined” many of the estimates of the monetary benefits that would be gained by reductions in related health ailments, like asthma and fertility issues, documents reviewed by The New York Times show.

As a result, the estimated benefit of the proposed rule dropped to $48 million a year, from as much as $278 million a year. The much-reduced amount deeply weakened the agency’s justification for the sometimes costly new testing that would be required under the new rules, a federal official involved in the effort said.

“It’s a redlining blood bath,” said Lisa Heinzerling, a Georgetown University Law School professor and a former E.P.A. official, using the Washington phrase to describe when language is stricken from a proposed rule. “Almost the entire discussion of these potential benefits was excised.”

Senator Vitter’s staff was pleased.

“That’s a huge difference,” said Luke Bolar, a spokesman for Mr. Vitter, of the reduced estimated financial benefits, saying the change was “clearly highlighting more mismanagement” at the E.P.A.

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The review’s outcome galvanized opponents in the furniture industry. They then targeted a provision that mandated new testing of laminated wood, a cheaper alternative to hardwood. (The California standard on which the law was based did not require such testing.)

But E.P.A. scientists had concluded that these laminate products — millions of which are sold annually in the United States — posed a particular risk. They said that when thin layers of wood, also known as laminate or veneer, are added to furniture or flooring in the final stages of manufacturing, the resulting product can generate dangerous levels of fumes from often-used formaldehyde-based glues.

Industry executives, outraged by what they considered an unnecessary and financially burdensome level of testing, turned every lever within reach to get the requirement removed. It would be particularly onerous, they argued, for small manufacturers that would have to repeatedly interrupt their work to do expensive new testing. The E.P.A. estimated that the expanded requirements for laminate products would cost the furniture industry tens of millions of dollars annually, while the industry said that the proposed rule over all would cost its 7,000 American manufacturing facilities over $200 million each year.

“A lot of people don’t seem to appreciate what a lot of these requirements do to a small operation,” said Dick Titus, executive vice president of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, whose members are predominantly small businesses. “A 10-person shop, for example, just really isn’t equipped to handle that type of thing.”

Photo
 
Becky Gillette wants strong regulation of formaldehyde. Credit Beth Hall for The New York Times

Big industry players also weighed in. Executives from companies including La-Z-Boy, Hooker Furniture and Ashley Furniture all flew to Washington for a series of meetings with the offices of lawmakers including House Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and about a dozen other lawmakers, asking several of them to sign a letter prepared by the industry to press the E.P.A. to back down, according to an industry report describing the lobbying visit.

Within a matter of weeks, two letters — using nearly identical language — were sent by House and Senate lawmakers to the E.P.A. — with the industry group forwarding copies of the letters to the agency as well, and then posting them on its website.

The industry lobbyists also held their own meeting at E.P.A. headquarters, and they urged Jim Jones, who oversaw the rule-making process as the assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, to visit a North Carolina furniture manufacturing plant. According to the trade group, Mr. Jones told them that the visit had “helped the agency shift its thinking” about the rules and how laminated products should be treated.

The resistance was particularly intense from lawmakers like Mr. Wicker of Mississippi, whose state is home to major manufacturing plants owned by Ashley Furniture Industries, the world’s largest furniture maker, and who is one of the biggest recipients in Congress of donations from the industry’s trade association. Asked if the political support played a role, a spokesman for Mr. Wicker replied: “Thousands of Mississippians depend on the furniture manufacturing industry for their livelihoods. Senator Wicker is committed to defending all Mississippians from government overreach.”

Individual companies like Ikea also intervened, as did the Chinese government, which claimed that the new rule would create a “great barrier” to the import of Chinese products because of higher costs.

Perhaps the most surprising objection came from Senator Boxer, of California, a longtime environmental advocate, whose office questioned why the E.P.A.’s rule went further than her home state’s in seeking testing on laminated products. “We did not advocate an outcome, other than safety,” her office said in a statement about why the senator raised concerns. “We said ‘Take a look to see if you have it right.’ ”

Safety advocates say that tighter restrictions — like the ones Ms. Boxer and Mr. Wicker, along with Representative Doris Matsui, a California Democrat, have questioned — are necessary, particularly for products coming from China, where items as varied as toys and Christmas lights have been found to violate American safety standards.

While Mr. Neltner, the environmental advocate who has been most involved in the review process, has been open to compromise, he has pressed the E.P.A. not to back down entirely, and to maintain a requirement that laminators verify that their products are safe.

An episode of CBS’s “60 Minutes” in March brought attention to the issue when it accused Lumber Liquidators, the discount flooring retailer, of selling laminate products with dangerous levels of formaldehyde. The company has disputed the show’s findings and test methods, maintaining that its products are safe.

“People think that just because Congress passed the legislation five years ago, the problem has been fixed,” said Becky Gillette, who then lived in coastal Mississippi, in the area hit by Hurricane Katrina, and was among the first to notice a pattern of complaints from people living in the trailers. “Real people’s faces and names come up in front of me when I think of the thousands of people who could get sick if this rule is not done right.”

An aide to Ms. Matsui rejected any suggestion that she was bending to industry pressure.

“From the beginning the public health has been our No. 1 concern,” said Kyle J. Victor, an aide to Ms. Matsui.

But further changes to the rule are likely, agency officials concede, as they say they are searching for a way to reduce the cost of complying with any final rule while maintaining public health goals. The question is just how radically the agency will revamp the testing requirement for laminated products — if it keeps it at all.

“It’s not a secret to anybody that is the most challenging issue,” said Mr. Jones, the E.P.A. official overseeing the process, adding that the health consequences from formaldehyde are real. “We have to reduce those exposures so that people can live healthy lives and not have to worry about being in their homes.”

The Uphill Battle to Better Regulate Formaldehyde

Ms. Meadows was the older sister of Audrey Meadows, who played Alice Kramden on “The Honeymooners.”

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HOBART, Tasmania — Few places seem out of reach for China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has traveled from European capitals to obscure Pacific and Caribbean islands in pursuit of his nation’s strategic interests.

So perhaps it was not surprising when he turned up last fall in this city on the edge of the Southern Ocean to put down a long-distance marker in another faraway region, Antarctica, 2,000 miles south of this Australian port.

Standing on the deck of an icebreaker that ferries Chinese scientists from this last stop before the frozen continent, Mr. Xi pledged that China would continue to expand in one of the few places on earth that remain unexploited by humans.

He signed a five-year accord with the Australian government that allows Chinese vessels and, in the future, aircraft to resupply for fuel and food before heading south. That will help secure easier access to a region that is believed to have vast oil and mineral resources; huge quantities of high-protein sea life; and for times of possible future dire need, fresh water contained in icebergs.

It was not until 1985, about seven decades after Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen raced to the South Pole, that a team representing Beijing hoisted the Chinese flag over the nation’s first Antarctic research base, the Great Wall Station on King George Island.

But now China seems determined to catch up. As it has bolstered spending on Antarctic research, and as the early explorers, especially the United States and Australia, confront stagnant budgets, there is growing concern about its intentions.

China’s operations on the continent — it opened its fourth research station last year, chose a site for a fifth, and is investing in a second icebreaker and new ice-capable planes and helicopters — are already the fastest growing of the 52 signatories to the Antarctic Treaty. That gentlemen’s agreement reached in 1959 bans military activity on the continent and aims to preserve it as one of the world’s last wildernesses; a related pact prohibits mining.

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But Mr. Xi’s visit was another sign that China is positioning itself to take advantage of the continent’s resource potential when the treaty expires in 2048 — or in the event that it is ripped up before, Chinese and Australian experts say.

“So far, our research is natural-science based, but we know there is more and more concern about resource security,” said Yang Huigen, director general of the Polar Research Institute of China, who accompanied Mr. Xi last November on his visit to Hobart and stood with him on the icebreaker, Xue Long, or Snow Dragon.

With that in mind, the polar institute recently opened a new division devoted to the study of resources, law, geopolitics and governance in Antarctica and the Arctic, Mr. Yang said.

Australia, a strategic ally of the United States that has strong economic relations with China, is watching China’s buildup in the Antarctic with a mix of gratitude — China’s presence offers support for Australia’s Antarctic science program, which is short of cash — and wariness.

“We should have no illusions about the deeper agenda — one that has not even been agreed to by Chinese scientists but is driven by Xi, and most likely his successors,” said Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and a former senior official in the Australian Department of Defense.

“This is part of a broader pattern of a mercantilist approach all around the world,” Mr. Jennings added. “A big driver of Chinese policy is to secure long-term energy supply and food supply.”

That approach was evident last month when a large Chinese agriculture enterprise announced an expansion of its fishing operations around Antarctica to catch more krill — small, protein-rich crustaceans that are abundant in Antarctic waters.

“The Antarctic is a treasure house for all human beings, and China should go there and share,” Liu Shenli, the chairman of the China National Agricultural Development Group, told China Daily, a state-owned newspaper. China would aim to fish up to two million tons of krill a year, he said, a substantial increase from what it currently harvests.

Because sovereignty over Antarctica is unclear, nations have sought to strengthen their claims over the ice-covered land by building research bases and naming geographic features. China’s fifth station will put it within reach of the six American facilities, and ahead of Australia’s three.

Chinese mappers have also given Chinese names to more than 300 sites, compared with the thousands of locations on the continent with English names.

In the unspoken competition for Antarctica’s future, scientific achievement can also translate into influence. Chinese scientists are driving to be the first to drill and recover an ice core containing tiny air bubbles that provide a record of climate change stretching as far back as 1.5 million years. It is an expensive and delicate effort at which others, including the European Union and Australia, have failed.

In a breakthrough a decade ago, European scientists extracted an ice core nearly two miles long that revealed 800,000 years of climate history. But finding an ice core going back further would allow scientists to examine a change in the earth’s climate cycles believed to have occurred 900,000 to 1.2 million years ago.

China is betting it has found the best location to drill, at an area called Dome A, or Dome Argus, the highest point on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Though it is considered one of the coldest places on the planet, with temperatures of 130 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, a Chinese expedition explored the area in 2005 and established a research station in 2009.

“The international community has drilled in lots of places, but no luck so far,” said Xiao Cunde, a member of the first party to reach the site and the deputy director of the Institute for Climate Change at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences. “We think at Dome A we will have a straight shot at the one-million-year ice core.”

Mr. Xiao said China had already begun drilling and hoped to find what scientists are looking for in four to five years.

To support its Antarctic aspirations, China is building a sophisticated $300 million icebreaker that is expected to be ready in a few years, said Xia Limin, deputy director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration in Beijing. It has also bought a high-tech fixed-wing aircraft, outfitted in the United States, for taking sensitive scientific soundings from the ice.

China has chosen the site for its fifth research station at Inexpressible Island, named by a group of British explorers who were stranded at the desolate site in 1912 and survived the winter by excavating a small ice cave.

Mr. Xia said the inhospitable spot was ideal because China did not have a presence in that part of Antarctica, and because the rocky site did not have much snow, making it relatively cheap to build there.

Anne-Marie Brady, a professor of political science at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and the author of a soon-to-be-released book, “China as a Polar Great Power,” said Chinese scientists also believed they had a good chance of finding mineral and energy resources near the site.

“China is playing a long game in Antarctica and keeping other states guessing about its true intentions and interests are part of its poker hand,” she said. But she noted that China’s interest in finding minerals was presented “loud and clear to domestic audiences” as the main reason it was investing in Antarctica.

Because commercial drilling is banned, estimates of energy and mineral resources in Antarctica rely on remote sensing data and comparisons with similar geological environments elsewhere, said Millard F. Coffin, executive director of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart.

But the difficulty of extraction in such severe conditions and uncertainty about future commodity prices make it unlikely that China or any country would defy the ban on mining anytime soon.

Tourism, however, is already booming. Travelers from China are still a relatively small contingent in the Antarctic compared with the more than 13,000 Americans who visited in 2013, and as yet there are no licensed Chinese tour operators.

But that is about to change, said Anthony Bergin, deputy director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “I understand very soon there will be Chinese tourists on Chinese vessels with all-Chinese crew in the Antarctic,” he said.

 

Top News China’s Intents Are Questioned as It Builds in Antarctica

Mr. Paczynski was one of the concentration camp’s longest surviving inmates and served as the personal barber to its Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss.

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Imagine an elite professional services firm with a high-performing, workaholic culture. Everyone is expected to turn on a dime to serve a client, travel at a moment’s notice, and be available pretty much every evening and weekend. It can make for a grueling work life, but at the highest levels of accounting, law, investment banking and consulting firms, it is just the way things are.

Except for one dirty little secret: Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.

Many of them were, at least, at one elite consulting firm studied by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. It’s impossible to know if what she learned at that unidentified consulting firm applies across the world of work more broadly. But her research, published in the academic journal Organization Science, offers a way to understand how the professional world differs between men and women, and some of the ways a hard-charging culture that emphasizes long hours above all can make some companies worse off.

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Credit Peter Arkle

Ms. Reid interviewed more than 100 people in the American offices of a global consulting firm and had access to performance reviews and internal human resources documents. At the firm there was a strong culture around long hours and responding to clients promptly.

“When the client needs me to be somewhere, I just have to be there,” said one of the consultants Ms. Reid interviewed. “And if you can’t be there, it’s probably because you’ve got another client meeting at the same time. You know it’s tough to say I can’t be there because my son had a Cub Scout meeting.”

Some people fully embraced this culture and put in the long hours, and they tended to be top performers. Others openly pushed back against it, insisting upon lighter and more flexible work hours, or less travel; they were punished in their performance reviews.

The third group is most interesting. Some 31 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women whose records Ms. Reid examined managed to achieve the benefits of a more moderate work schedule without explicitly asking for it.

They made an effort to line up clients who were local, reducing the need for travel. When they skipped work to spend time with their children or spouse, they didn’t call attention to it. One team on which several members had small children agreed among themselves to cover for one another so that everyone could have more flexible hours.

A male junior manager described working to have repeat consulting engagements with a company near enough to his home that he could take care of it with day trips. “I try to head out by 5, get home at 5:30, have dinner, play with my daughter,” he said, adding that he generally kept weekend work down to two hours of catching up on email.

Despite the limited hours, he said: “I know what clients are expecting. So I deliver above that.” He received a high performance review and a promotion.

What is fascinating about the firm Ms. Reid studied is that these people, who in her terminology were “passing” as workaholics, received performance reviews that were as strong as their hyper-ambitious colleagues. For people who were good at faking it, there was no real damage done by their lighter workloads.

It calls to mind the episode of “Seinfeld” in which George Costanza leaves his car in the parking lot at Yankee Stadium, where he works, and gets a promotion because his boss sees the car and thinks he is getting to work earlier and staying later than anyone else. (The strategy goes awry for him, and is not recommended for any aspiring partners in a consulting firm.)

A second finding is that women, particularly those with young children, were much more likely to request greater flexibility through more formal means, such as returning from maternity leave with an explicitly reduced schedule. Men who requested a paternity leave seemed to be punished come review time, and so may have felt more need to take time to spend with their families through those unofficial methods.

The result of this is easy to see: Those specifically requesting a lighter workload, who were disproportionately women, suffered in their performance reviews; those who took a lighter workload more discreetly didn’t suffer. The maxim of “ask forgiveness, not permission” seemed to apply.

It would be dangerous to extrapolate too much from a study at one firm, but Ms. Reid said in an interview that since publishing a summary of her research in Harvard Business Review she has heard from people in a variety of industries describing the same dynamic.

High-octane professional service firms are that way for a reason, and no one would doubt that insane hours and lots of travel can be necessary if you’re a lawyer on the verge of a big trial, an accountant right before tax day or an investment banker advising on a huge merger.

But the fact that the consultants who quietly lightened their workload did just as well in their performance reviews as those who were truly working 80 or more hours a week suggests that in normal times, heavy workloads may be more about signaling devotion to a firm than really being more productive. The person working 80 hours isn’t necessarily serving clients any better than the person working 50.

In other words, maybe the real problem isn’t men faking greater devotion to their jobs. Maybe it’s that too many companies reward the wrong things, favoring the illusion of extraordinary effort over actual productivity.

How Some Men Fake an 80-Hour Workweek, and Why It Matters

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ate in February, Dr. Ben Carson, the celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon turned political insurrectionist, was trying to check off another box on his presidential-campaign to-do list: hiring a press secretary. The lead prospect, a public-relations specialist named Deana Bass, had come to meet him at the dimly lit Capitol Hill office of Carson’s confidant and business manager, Armstrong Williams. Carson sat back and scrutinized her from behind a small granite table, as life-size cardboard cutouts of more conventional politicians — President Obama, with a tight smile, and Senator John McCain, glowering — loomed behind each of his shoulders. (The mock $3 bill someone had left on a table in Williams’s waiting room undercut any notion that this was a bipartisan zone; it featured Obama wearing a turban.)

Bass seemed momentarily speechless, and not just because no one had warned her that a New York Times reporter would be sitting in on her job interview. Though she knew Williams — a jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur who owns several television stations and a public-affairs business and who hosts a daily talk-radio show — through Washington’s small circle of black conservatives, the two hadn’t spoken in years until he called her two days earlier. He had been struggling to come up with the perfect national spokesperson, he told her. Then, at the gym, her name popped into his head; Williams was fairly certain she was the one. Sitting across from a likely candidate for president, Bass was adjusting to the idea that her life might be about to take a sudden chaotic turn.

“It’s like getting the most random call on a Monday that you simply do not see coming,” she said. “Oftentimes, that is how the Lord works.”

Continue reading the main story

His life in brain surgery
has prepared him for the
presidency, he maintains,
better than lives in
politics have for his rivals.

Carson concurred: “It’s always how he works in my life.” Carson is soft-spoken and often talks with his eyes half closed, frequently punctuating his sentences with a small laugh, even if the humor of his statement is not readily apparent. Bass told Carson that she had been a Republican staff member on Capitol Hill then worked for the Republican National Committee. In 2007 she started a Christian public-relations firm with her sister. She enjoyed working on the Hill, she said, but the pay wasn’t as high as the hours were long. “We figured that we worked like slaves for other people, and we wanted to work for ourselves.”

Carson stopped her. “You know you can’t mention that word, right?” Carson waited a beat, then laughed, and Williams and Bass joined in. He was getting to the point; he needed a professional who could help him check his penchant for creating uncontrolled controversy just by talking.

The Ben Carson movement began in 2013, when Carson, a neurosurgeon, whose operating-room prowess and up-from-poverty back story had made him the subject of a television movie and a regular on the inspirational-speaking circuit, was invited to address the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. With Barack Obama sitting just two seats away, Carson warned that “moral decay” and “fiscal irresponsibility” could destroy America just as it did ancient Rome. He proposed a substitute for Obamacare — Health Savings Accounts, which, he said, would end any talk of “death panels” — and a flat-tax based on the concept of tithing. His address, combined with the president’s stony reaction, was a smash with Republican activists. Speaking and interview requests flooded in. Carson, then 61, announced his planned retirement a few weeks later, freeing his calendar to accept just about all of them. In the months that followed, his rhetoric became increasingly strident. The claim that drew the most attention, perhaps, was that Obamacare was “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

Bass’s own use of the word prompted Carson to ask her what she thought about that incident. She considered for a moment.

“If you want to reach people and have them even understand what you’re saying, there is a way to do it, without that hyperbole, that might be. . . . ” She paused. “I just think it’s important not to shut people off before they —”

Carson jumped in. “That doesn’t allow them to hear what you’re saying?”

Bass nodded.

Likening Obamacare to slavery — and slavery was incomparably worse, Carson said — had its political advantages for a candidacy like his. It was the kind of statement that stoked the angriest of the Republican voters: conservative stalwarts who can’t hear enough bad things about Obama. This, in turn, led to more talk-radio and Fox News appearances, more book sales, more donations to the super PAC started in his name, more support in the polls. (The day before the meeting, one poll of Republican voters showed Carson statistically tied for first place with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.)

Rhetorical excess was good for business, but Carson now wants to be seen as more than a novelty candidate. He has come to learn that such extreme analogies, while true to his views, aren’t especially presidential. They alienate more moderate voters and, perhaps even more damaging, reinforce the impression that he is not “serious” — that he is another Herman Cain, the black former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive who rose to the top of the early presidential polls in 2011 but then bowed out before the Iowa caucuses, largely because of leaked allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied but from which he never recovered. Cain lingers as a cautionary tale for the party as much as for a right-leaning candidate like Carson. The fact that Cain, with his folksy sayings (“shucky ducky”) and misnomers (“Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan”), reached the top of the national polls — much less that he was eventually followed there by the likes of Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who all topped one or another poll in the 2012 primary season — wound up being a considerable embarrassment for the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, and for the longtime party regulars who were trying to fast-track his way to the nomination.

Carson liked Bass and, without directly saying so, made it clear the job was hers for the taking. Carson’s campaign chairman, Terry Giles — a white lawyer whose clients have included the comedian Richard Pryor and the stepson of the model Anna Nicole Smith and who helped reconcile the business interests of the descendants of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — had assembled a mostly white campaign team, including many from the 2012 Gingrich effort, and Carson wanted a person of color to speak for him. Bass said she would have to mull it over, pray about it. Carson nodded approvingly. “Pray about it,” he said. “See what you think.”

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Williams knew the party was intent on protecting the eventual 2016 nominee from the same embarrassment Romney suffered. Already, suspiciously tough articles about Carson were showing up in conservative magazines and on right-wing websites. “They’re protecting these establishment candidates,” Williams said. “This is coming from within the house. This is family.” At the very least, he wanted to make sure that Carson didn’t do their work for them. (Carson would commit another unforced error a week later, when he told CNN that homosexuality was clearly a choice, because a lot of people go in prison straight and “when they come out, they’re gay”; he later apologized.)

“We need somebody to protect him, sometimes, from himself,” he told Bass — laughing, but only half kidding.

A candidacy like Carson’s presents a new kind of problem to the establishment wing of the G.O.P., which, at least since 1980, has selected its presidential nominees with a routine efficiency that Democrats could only envy. The establishment candidate has usually been a current or former governor or senator, blandly Protestant, hailing from the moderate, big-business wing of the party (or at least friendly with it) and almost always a second-, third- or fourth-time national contender — someone who had waited “his turn.” These candidates would tack predictably to the right during the primaries to satisfy the evangelicals, deficit hawks, libertarian leaners and other inconvenient but vital constituents who made up the “base” of the party. In return, the base would, after a brief flirtation with some fantasy candidate like Steve Forbes or Pat Buchanan, “hold their noses” and deliver their votes come November. This bargain was always tenuous, of course, and when some of the furthest-right activists turned against George W. Bush, citing (among other apostasies) his expansion of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, it began to fall apart. After Barack Obama defeated McCain in 2008, the party’s once dependable base started to reconsider the wisdom of holding their noses at all.

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Republican candidates at a pre-straw-poll debate, held at Iowa State University in 2011. Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This insurgent attitude was helped along by changes in the nomination rules. In 2010, the Republican National Committee, hoping to capture the excitement of the coast-to-coast Democratic primary competition between Obama and Hillary Clinton, introduced new voting rules that required many of the early voting states to award some delegates to losing candidates, based on their shares of the vote. The proportional voting rules would encourage struggling candidates to stay in the primaries even after successive losses, as Clinton did, because they might be able to pull together enough delegates to take the nomination in a convention-floor fight or at least use them to bargain for a prime speaking slot or cabinet post.

This shift in incentives did not go unnoticed by potential 2012 candidates, nor did changes in election law that allowed billionaire donors to form super PACs in support of pet candidacies. At the same time, increasingly widespread broadband Internet access allowed candidates to reach supporters directly with video and email appeals and supporters to send money with the tap of a smartphone, making it easier than ever for individual candidates to ignore the wishes of the party.

Into this newly chaotic Republican landscape strode Mitt Romney. There could be no doubt that it was his turn, and yet his journey to the nomination was interrupted by one against-the-odds challenger after another — Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul; always Ron Paul. It was easy to dismiss the 2012 primaries as a meaningless circus, but the onslaught did much more than tarnish the overall Republican brand. It also forced Romney to spend money he could have used against Obama and defend his right flank with embarrassing pandering that shadowed him through the general election. It was while trying to block a surge from Gingrich, for instance, that Romney told a debate audience that he was for the “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants.

At the 2012 convention in Tampa, a group of longtime party hands, including Romney’s lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, gathered to discuss how to prevent a repeat of what had become known inside and outside the party as the “clown show.” Their aim was not just to protect the party but also to protect a potential President Romney from a primary challenge in 2016. They forced through new rules that would give future presumptive nominees more control over delegates in the event of a convention fight. They did away with the mandatory proportional delegate awards that encouraged long-shot candidacies. And, in a noticeably targeted effort, they raised the threshold that candidates needed to meet to enter their names into nomination, just as Ron Paul’s supporters were working to reach it. When John A. Boehner gaveled the rules in on a voice vote — a vote that many listeners heard as a tie, if not an outright loss — the hall erupted and a line of Ron Paul supporters walked off the floor in protest, along with many Tea Party members.

At a party meeting last winter, Reince Priebus, who as party chairman is charged with maintaining the support of all his constituencies, did restore some proportional primary and caucus voting, but only in states that held voting within a shortened two-week window. And he also condensed the nominating schedule to four and a half months from six months, and, for the first time required candidates to participate in a shortened debate schedule, determined by the party, not by the whims of the networks. (The panel that recommended those changes included names closely identified with the establishment — the former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, the Mississippi committeeman Haley Barbour and, notably, Jeb Bush’s closest adviser, Sally Bradshaw.)

Grass-roots activists have complained that the condensed schedule robs nonestablishment candidates — “movement candidates” like Carson — of the extra time they need to build momentum, money and organizations. But Priebus, who says the nomination could be close to settled by April, said it helped all the party’s constituencies when the nominee was decided quickly. “We don’t need a six-month slice-and-dice festival,” Priebus said when we spoke in mid-March. “While I can’t always control everyone’s mouth, I can control how long we can kill each other.”

All the rules changes were built to sidestep the problems of 2012. But the 2016 field is shaping up to be vastly different and far larger. A new Republican hints that he or she is considering a run seemingly every week. There are moderates like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Gov. George Pataki of New York; no-compromise conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; business-wingers like the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina; one-of-a-kinds like Donald Trump — some 20 in all, a dozen or so who seem fairly serious about it. That opens the possibility of multiple candidates vying for all the major Republican constituencies, some of them possibly goaded along by super-PAC-funding billionaires, all of them trading wins and collecting delegates well into spring.

Giles says his candidate can capitalize on all that chaos. Rivals may laugh, but Giles argues that if Carson can make a respectable showing in Iowa, then win in South Carolina — or at least come in second should a home-state senator, Lindsey Graham, run — and come in second behind Bush or Senator Marco Rubio in their home state of Florida, he could be positioned to make a real run. But that would depend on avoiding pitfalls like Carson’s ill-considered comments on homosexuality. Rather than capitalizing on the chaos, Carson may only contribute to it.

Ben Carson is, in many ways, the ideal Republican presidential candidate. With a not-too-selective reading of his life story, conservative voters can — and do — see in him an inspiring, up-from-nowhere African-American who shares their beliefs, a right-wing answer to Barack Obama. Before he was born, his parents moved to Detroit from rural Tennessee as part of the second great migration. His father, Robert Solomon Carson, worked at a Cadillac factory. His mother, Sonya — who herself had grown up as one of 24 children and left school at third grade — cleaned houses. When Carson was 8, Sonya discovered that Robert was keeping a second family. She moved, with her two sons, into a rundown group house. It was in a part of town that Carson described to me as crawling with “big rats and roaches and all kinds of horrible things.” Sonya worked several jobs at a time and made up the shortfall with food stamps. (Carson has called for paring back the social safety net but not doing away with it.)

Carson recounts this story in his best-selling 1990 memoir, “Gifted Hands,” which also became the basis for a 2009 movie on TNT, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Carson. Raised as a Seventh Day Adventist, Carson realized that he wanted to become a physician during a church sermon about a missionary doctor who, while serving overseas, was almost attacked by thieves but found safety by putting his faith in God. When Carson, then 8, told his mother his new dream, “She said, ‘Absolutely, you could do it, you could do anything,’ ” he told me. Forced by his mother to read two extra books a week, he made it to Yale, then to medical school at the University of Michigan, where he decided to specialize in neurosurgery. He was selected for residency at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, where he was named director of pediatric neurosurgery at 33, becoming the youngest person, and the first black person, to hold the title. He drew national attention by conducting a succession of operations that had never been performed successfully, most famously planning and managing the first separation of conjoined twins connected through major blood vessels in the brain.

Carson, a two-time Jimmy Carter voter, traces his conservative political awakening to a patient he met during the Reagan years. During a routine obstetrics rotation, he found himself treating an unwed pregnant teenager who had run away from her well-to-do parents. When Carson asked her how she was getting by, she informed him she was on public assistance; this led him to ponder the fact that the government was paying for the result of what he did not view as a “wise decision.” The incident, he says, fed his growing sense that the welfare system too often saps motivation and rewards irresponsible behavior. (When we spoke, he suggested that the government should cut off assistance to would-be unwed mothers, but only after warning them that it would do so within a certain amount of time, say five years. “I bet you’d see a dramatic decrease in unwed motherhood.”)

Carson’s friends at Hopkins say they do not remember him being particularly outspoken about his conservatism. He devoted most of his public engagement to urging poor kids in bad neighborhoods to use “these fancy brains God gave us,” through weekly school visits, student hospital tours and, ultimately, a multimillion-dollar scholarship program. “His issues were always medical care for the poor, education for the poor, equal opportunity — helping the less fortunate and really inspiring them as an example,” a mentor who named him to the chief pediatrics-neurosurgery post at Hopkins, Dr. Donlin Long, told me.

Even when Carson got the chance, in 1997, to speak in front of President Bill Clinton, at the national prayer breakfast, he mostly discussed the lack of role models for black children who were not sports stars or rappers. (There was possibly an oblique reference to Clinton’s sex scandals, when he told the audience that, if they are always honest, they won’t have to worry later about “skeletons in the closet.”)

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Ben Carson at CPAC on Feb. 26 in Oxon Hill, Md. Credit Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

In 2011, Carson’s politics took a strident turn, mirroring that of many in his party during the Obama years. “America the Beautiful,” his sixth book, which he wrote with Candy Carson, his wife of 39 years, included a get-tough-on-illegal-immigration message and offered anti-establishment praise for the Tea Party. It suggested that blacks who voted for Obama only because he was black were themselves practicing a form of racism. (Earlier this year he admitted to Buzzfeed that portions of the book were lifted directly from several sources without proper attribution.) His prayer-breakfast performance in 2013, and the extremity of his remarks in the months afterward (Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery; the United States is “very much like Nazi Germany”; allowing same-sex marriage could lead to allowing bestiality), left some of his old friends bewildered. Students at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine protested his planned convocation address there in 2013, and he eventually backed out. When I asked Carson about the view at Hopkins that he had changed, he said his themes are still the same: “hard work, self-reliance, helping other people.” If he had become more overtly political, he said, it was only because the Obama years had led him to believe that “we’re really moving in a direction that is very, very destructive.”

None of this went unnoticed by campaign professionals. In August 2013, John Philip Sousa IV and Vernon Robinson, each of whom professes to be a virtual stranger to Carson, and who had previously been active in the anti-illegal-immigration movement, started the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee. Sousa was just coming off a campaign to defend the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, from a recall effort, and he told me that he found Carson’s lack of political experience refreshing. “We have 500 guys and gals with probably a collective 5,000 years experience, and look at the mess we’re in,” he said.

Many others in the party feel the same way. Carson’s PAC finished 2014 with more than $13 million in donations, more than Ready for Hillary. Much of its money has gone toward further fund-raising, but Sousa — the great-grandson of the famous composer — points out that their effort has already built far more than just a war chest, organizing leaders in all 99 of Iowa’s counties. Regardless, Carson credits the fund-raising success of Sousa and Robinson with persuading him to enter the race.

Very early the morning after the job interview, Carson was in a black S.U.V., heading from Washington to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., where he was to give the opening candidate speech of the Conservative Political Action Conference. The event, which functions as an early tryout for Republican presidential contenders, tends to skew rightward in its audience, drawing many of the same sorts of people who shouted at Boehner in Tampa. As such, it tends to favor anti-establishment candidates, but the news leading up to this year’s event was that Jeb Bush hoped to make inroads there.

It was still dark when we set out, and I joked with Carson about the hour, telling him he’d better get used to it. He retorted that his career in pediatric brain surgery made him no stranger to early mornings. This is a big theme of Carson’s presidential pitch: that neither the rigors of the campaign nor those of the White House can faze a man who held children’s lives in his hands. His life in brain surgery has prepared him for the presidency, he maintains, better than lives in politics have for his rivals. At the very least, he says, it conditioned him against getting too worked up about any problem that isn’t life threatening. “I mean, it’s grueling, but interestingly enough, I don’t feel the pressure,” he said.

At the convention hall, we were quickly surrounded by admirers. Two women were already waiting to meet him — white, middle-aged volunteers for Carson’s super PAC, who had traveled from South Carolina. One of them, Chris Horne, was holding a dog-eared and taped Bible. A founding member of the Charleston Tea Party who went on to work for Gingrich’s successful South Carolina primary campaign in 2012, Horne lamented over the attacks that Carson was sure to face. “You served us, you served the Lord, just don’t let them steal that from you,” she said. Her friend told him, “You’ve got God behind you!” Such religious evocations trailed Carson constantly while I walked the CPAC floor with him. Evangelicals are impressed not only with his devotion to their politics but also with his career path; as one of them told me, what’s more pro-life than saving babies?

During our ride to the conference, Carson told me his speech was not looking to “feed the beast.” When his appointed time came, he kept his remarks as tame as promised. “Real compassion” meant “using our intellect” to help people “climb out of dependency and realize the American dream,” he said. The national debt is going to “destroy us,” Obamacare was about “redistribution and control,” but Republicans better come forward with their own alternative before they repeal it, he said.

Because his speech was first, and it started several minutes early, the auditorium was slow to fill. Still, the first day saw a crush of people seeking autographs and pictures as he roamed the hall. The Draft Carson committee’s 150 volunteers swarmed the auditorium, collecting emails and handing out “Run Ben Run” stickers. After a quick interview with Sean Hannity, the conservative-radio and Fox News host — his second in two days — Carson was off to Tampa.

In the hours that followed his talk, the hall offered a view in miniature of what the next 12 to 14 months might hold for the party. Chris Christie, sitting across from the tough-minded talk-radio host Laura Ingraham, boasted about his multiple vetoes of Planned Parenthood funding, his refusal to raise income taxes and his belief that “sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up.” Cruz, an audience favorite, warning his fellow Republicans against falling for a “squishy moderate,” declared, “Take all 125,000 I.R.S. agents and put ’em on our Southern border!” Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, surging in polls, boasted that if he could face down the 100,000 union supporters who protested his legislation limiting collective bargaining for public employees, he could certainly handle ISIS. The next day, the traditional CPAC favorite Rand Paul spoke, packing the hall with his supporters who chanted “President Paul.” He warned, counter to the overall hawkish tenor of the event, that “we should not succumb to the notion that a government inept at home will somehow become successful abroad.” But he also vowed to end foreign aid to countries whose citizens are seen burning American flags. “Not one penny more to these haters of America.”

Perhaps the defining moment came near the end of the conference, when Jeb Bush spoke. In a neat trick of political gamesmanship — and a show of establishment muscle — his team had bused in an ample cheering section for the dozens of cameras on hand for his appearance. But a small contingent of Tea Party activists and Rand Paul supporters staged a walk out. When Bush began a question-and-answer session, they turned and left the auditorium to chant “U.S.A., U.S.A.” in the hallway, led by a man in colonial garb waving a huge “Don’t Tread on Me” banner. Plenty of other detractors stayed in the hall and peppered Bush’s remarks with booing as he stood by positions unpopular with the conservative grass roots: support for the Common Core standards and an immigration overhaul that provides a “path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants. Bush took it all in good humor, but finally seemed to give up.

“For those who made an ‘oo’ sound — is that what it was? — I’m marking you down as neutral,” he said. “And I want to be your second choice.”

Bush strategists told me they would not repeat Romney’s mistakes. Of course they would love to glide to an early nomination, they said, but they are prepared for a long contest and won’t be wasting any energy bending under pressure from a Paul or a Cruz or a Carson.

No one doubts that the pressure will increase, though. Despite the best wishes of the party’s leaders, GOP primary voters have given little indication that they will narrow the field quickly.

Before I left, I spotted Newt Gingrich, himself a fleeting presidential front-runner during those strange primary days of 2012. I asked him whether he thought all the party maneuvering — all the attempts to change the rules and fast-track the process — would preclude someone from presenting the sort of outside primary challenge he had carried out in the last election.

“No,” he told me, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Look at where Ben Carson is right now.”

Jim Rutenberg is the chief political correspondent for the magazine. His most recent feature was about Megyn Kelly.

Ben Carson Says He’ll Seek 2016 G.O.P. Nomination

Mr. Pfaff was an international affairs columnist and author who found Washington’s intervention in world affairs often misguided.

William Pfaff, Critic of American Foreign Policy, Dies at 86

Ms. Crough played the youngest daughter on the hit ’70s sitcom starring David Cassidy and Shirley Jones.

Suzanne Crough, Actress in ‘The Partridge Family,’ Dies at 52
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